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Yesterday, Qualcomm unveiled its new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, its top application processor (AP), at the Snapdragon Summit 2022. today, the San Diego-based chip design company unveiled the Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1 platform for augmented reality (AR) experiences for smart glasses and other head-mounted devices.

The new chip is part of Qualcomm’s Extended Reality (XR) offering. Qualcomm said Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1 “delivers breakthrough AR technology that will unlock a new generation of stylish, powerful glasses. The company built Snapdragon AR2 from the ground up to revolutionise the shape of head-mounted glasses and usher in a new era of spatial computing experiences for the real-world/virtual-world combination.

Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1’s main processor takes up 40 percent less space while still increasing AR performance by 2.5x, and the chip consumes 50 percent less power. As Qualcomm says, “This allows AR glasses to be worn comfortably for long periods of time and meet the needs of consumer and enterprise use cases.”

With the platform, latency-sensitive data, such as video streams, surgeries, multiplayer video games and computerised stock trades, will be sent directly to the headset. Other more complex data needs will be offloaded to a Snapdragon processor-powered smartphone, PC or other type of compatible host device.

The AR processor is designed for headsets with multiple cameras, supporting up to nine concurrent cameras. The platform consists of a multi-chip architecture with an AR processor, an AR co-processor, and a connectivity platform.

We built Snapdragon AR2 to address the unique challenges of head-mounted AR and deliver industry-leading processing, artificial intelligence and connectivity in a sleek form factor,” said Hugo Swart, vice president of XR product management at Qualcomm Technologies. As the technical and physical requirements for VR / MR and AR diverge, Snapdragon AR2 represents another platform in our XR portfolio that defines the meta-universe and helps our OEM partners revolutionize AR eyewear.”

The AR coprocessor will handle important tasks such as eye tracking, and can also use iris authentication to not only verify identity, but also render certain images only when the user is looking at a certain part of the display, which can save on power consumption.

The system also features the FastConnect 7800 mobile connectivity system with Wi-Fi 7 support, which will enable latency of less than 2 milliseconds (ms) between the AR glasses and host devices, including smartphones.

Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1 is manufactured on a 4nm process (Qualcomm did not disclose which foundry produces the chip) and manufacturers interested in the platform “include Lenovo, LG, Nreal, OPPO, Pico, QONOQ, Rokid, Sharp, TCL, Vuzix and Xiaomi”.

Microsoft worked closely with Qualcomm on the platform requirements for Snapdragon AR2 to help define the dedicated underlying technology that will unlock new possibilities for AR experiences,” said Rubén Caballero, vice president of Mixed Reality, Devices and Technology at Microsoft. Innovations in the Snapdragon AR2 platform will revolutionise head-mounted AR devices, thereby transforming immersive productivity and collaboration, and we look forward to seeing the innovations Qualcomm and its partners will bring to market.”

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